Ag ex­pert awarded for ser­vice

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - News -

A SCI­EN­TIST who ac­tively in­volved farm­ers in his re­search – the CSIRO’s Dr John Kirkegaard –has won the 2017 Far­rer Memo­rial Medal.

Dr Kirkegaard re­ceived the award in recog­ni­tion of his dis­tin­guished ser­vice fo­cussed on un­der­stand­ing soil-plant in­ter­ac­tions to im­prove pro­duc­tiv­ity, ef­fi­ciency and sus­tain­abil­ity of dry­land farm­ing sys­tems, said NSW De­part­ment of Pri­mary In­dus­tries direc­tor gen­eral and Far­rer Memo­rial Trust chair­man, Scott Hansen.

“Dr Kirkegaard’s ex­ten­sive and dis­tin­guished ca­reer with CSIRO is pro­vid­ing sig­nif­i­cant agri­cul­tural re­search that has led to many ben­e­fits for Aus­tralia’s farm­ers,” Mr Hansen said.

“A hall­mark of his in­no­va­tive re­search has been his ac­tive in­te­gra­tion of farm­ers and ad­vis­ers into his re­search teams, which has un­doubt­edly led to more rapid adop­tion and im­pact in agri­cul­ture.”

Dr Kirkegaard is a chief re­search sci­en­tist with CSIRO Agri­cul­ture and Food based in Can­berra and an ad­junct pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Western Aus­tralia and Charles Sturt Univer­sity.

Dr Kirkegaard and his re­search teams and col­lab­o­ra­tors have in­ves­ti­gated as­pects of im­proved crop se­quence, ro­ta­tional ben­e­fits and pro­duc­tiv­ity of canola and other bras­sica species, im­proved sub-soil wa­ter use, devel­op­ment and in­te­gra­tion of dual-pur­pose crops and im­proved pro­duc­tiv­ity in con­ser­va­tion agri­cul­ture.

“Dr Kirkegaard’s ex­per­tise is recog­nised na­tion­ally through the nu­mer­ous re­search pro­grams he has led,” Mr Hansen said.

“He has con­trib­uted on the in­ter­na­tional stage at reg­u­lar fo­rums and ad­vi­sory com­mit­tees on agri­cul­ture and food se­cu­rity.”

In his ora­tion ti­tled ‘Farm­ing sys­tems agron­omy – it is rocket science’, Dr Kirkegaard drew par­al­lels be­tween the team­work and multi-dis­ci­plinary ap­proach needed to achieve am­bi­tious space ex­plo­ration goals and the chal­lenges of sus­tained in­creases in global food pro­duc­tion.

“No in­di­vid­ual tech­nol­ogy is trans­for­ma­tional – step changes in crop pro­duc­tiv­ity arise when syn­er­gies be­tween the best ge­net­ics and in­no­va­tive man­age­ment can be cap­tured on-farm,” Dr Kirkegaard said.

The Far­rer Memo­rial Medal was pre­sented to Dr Kirkegaard at an award cer­e­mony on Novem­ber 22 at the CSIRO Dis­cov­ery Cen­tre in Can­berra.

The medal is awarded an­nu­ally in mem­ory of Wil­liam James Far­rer, a plant breeder, in recog­ni­tion of dis­tin­guished ser­vice in agri­cul­tural science in Aus­tralia in re­search, ed­u­ca­tion or ad­min­is­tra­tion.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

MAK­ING A DIF­FER­ENCE: John Kirkegaard (left) re­ceives the award from Philip Wright.

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